You're itching for a little free publicity for your business, but you can't find a scrap of news anywhere. You don't have a new product or service, and there's nothing particularly exciting going on in your industry that would serve as a good peg for a story on your company. What to do?
Piggyback onto a popular celebrity, television show or movie in one of four ways:
1. Use a TV show or movie to discuss an issue your business can help solve.
TV shows – especially those that have a strong fan following -- are great launch pads for capturing your customers' attention. Take a look at the dilemmas your favorite TV characters face and try to derive some lessons from them.
Sometimes all it takes is a press release. Steve Juetten, a financial planner from Bellevue, Wash., generated coverage in hundreds of media outlets in January last year with a press release on personal-finance lessons from Downton Abbey, which was distributed through PR Newswire.
His timing was perfect because people typically use the New Year to get their money matters in order.
"I was watching the season three premiere episode and it struck me that there are all sorts of personal finance lessons we can learn from this rich mix of characters," he stated in the release.
During the holidays, consider tying into popular or classic Christmas movies. During the summer, think classic summer movies like American Graffiti, Jaws and Grease. Business coaches, you might use the "if you build it they will come" motto from Field of Dreams to caution entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a business without doing market research. Have fun with it.
2. Survey people about what they think about a popular subject.
Some companies take elaborate, expensive surveys. But you don't have to. Create a short survey using a free program like SurveyMonkey. Post it at your blog, or in your ezine, and share it on Facebook and Twitter.
If you sell products or services that appeal to Baby Boomers, for example, ask people to list their favorite Boomer romance movies. Offer the results to bloggers, along with your own expert commentary on what makes those movies so special. Questions can be open-ended or multiple choice.
Be careful that the topic won't offend your audience. Critics slammed the Detroit Free Press for its Celebrity Cleavage Survey in February this year just before the Grammys.
3. Offer free advice to a TV character or celebrity who is struggling with a problem.
Anger management trainers: What can you teach Alex Baldwin about how to control his temper?
Miley Cyrus seems to be begging for help. So are parents whose little girls idolize her. Parenting experts, what advice do you have on how parents can teach their daughters what kind of clothing isn't appropriate? Pitch mommy bloggers and freelance writers who cover parenting issues.
The owner of a woman's clothing store or an image consultant can offer advice to worst-dressed celebrities who appear on the red carpet.
Financial planners, be on the lookout for celebs with money problems, and use the news stories as a springboard to share your tips. Remember Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme? His victims included Steven Spielberg and actors Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and Zsa Zsa Gabor. It was an ideal time for money experts to offer tips on how to spot a Ponzi scheme.
Divorce attorneys, family counselors and relationship coaches can find material galore just from Kim Kardashian.
Health advocates, offer commentary when celebrities go public with news about their health problems, like Michael Douglas' tongue cancer and Catherine Zeta-Jones' depression.
James Gandolfini's sudden death in June 2013, at age 51, prompted health experts and fitness coaches to speculate on what caused the heart attack. Gandolfini, star of the HBO hit "The Sopranos," was grossly overweight and smoked cigars.
Don't miss any news that ties into your topic. Create a Google Alert. You will receive reminders -- instantly, daily or weekly -- of content that appears online.
Sources for finding TV shows, movies, celebrity gossip: